News / Africa

Somalia's Assembly to Debate Controversial Constitution

Somalia's President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed (R) and Speaker of the Parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan attend the National Constituent Assembly meeting in the capital Mogadishu, July 25, 2012.
Somalia's President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed (R) and Speaker of the Parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan attend the National Constituent Assembly meeting in the capital Mogadishu, July 25, 2012.
NAIROBI, Kenya — After months of wrangling and postponement in Somalia, an 825-member constituent assembly will have the final word on the country's new constitution. Despite some objections, representatives believe the constitution ultimately will be approved.

Assembly representatives will have a chance for debate and to add their recommendations before voting "yes" or "no" on whether to adopt the new constitution.

The assembly, which brings together Somali community leaders from the various clans, sub-clans and the diaspora, is part of the process for ending an eight-year political transition and forming a new government.

One member, Ali Abdirahman Ahmed, an elder from the Digil and Mirifle clan, told VOA his clan instructed its representatives to pass the constitution. He said that doing so will help bring an end to the suffering of the Somali people in and out the country.

Making a successful transition

Ahmed said the reason his clan's representatives were told to vote for the adoption of the constitution is because their daughters are giving birth under trees, their sons are dying in the oceans. He said that if you go to every prison in the five continents you find our sons and daughters are languishing in those prisons. He said his nation must find ways to finish this transition so that they can have some sort of accountability in the next government.

The constituent assembly has been postponed several times. It was held up most recently by clan elders who expressed concerns about certain clauses in the constitution and insisted on making changes before it passed.

Mohamed Hassan Haad, the chairman of the Hawiye clan elders, refused to attend the assembly as an observer, and cast doubt on the legitimacy of the process.

"Whatever they are going to work on," Haad said, "there are people who have already worked on that [constitution] and they will be instructed what to do and what to say, and those are some of the things that made us walk out of the meeting hall. They are working under the terms of some politicians who want a position in the government. In such a situation we could not represent our people when such things are taking place."

In previous interviews with VOA, Haad has said his strongest objections are that the constitution grants too many rights for women to run for high office, and that it does not specify what city will be Somalia's capital.

Assembly member Ibrahim Salah, from the Gedo region, said that although the draft is not perfect, members of the assembly are being given a chance to suggest changes.

He said if you look at the draft constitution, since it is written by a human being, certain things can be wrong and others right; it is a not holy book. But when checked, the mistakes are minimal, and changes can be made, he said.

Attempt toward progress

The United Nations helped to draft the constitution and is supporting Somalia's political process.

U.N. Special Representative for Somalia Augustine Mahiga told the constituent assembly that the new constitution recognizes the fundamental importance of Somalia as an Islamic state, blended with modern 21st century society.

He called the constituent assembly the first step toward completing a political transition and forming a new government by August 20.

Somalia has been without a stable central government, and has endured two decades of war and lawlessness, since the ouster of former president Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

You May Like

800-Pound Man Determined to Slim Down

Man says he was kicked out of hospital for ordering pizza; wants to be an actor More

Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees

Preference will be given to refugees from persecuted minorities, and the first group is expected to arrive before late December More

S. African Miners Seek Class Action Suit Against Gold Mines

The estimated 100,000 say say they contracted the lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis in the mines More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Jay from: USA
July 27, 2012 12:10 PM
I think it is true that Somalia had tough 20 years of civl war, which many organized criminals including extremists have took advantage of. That does not mean the whole nation of Somalia represents a terrorist nation, it is just uneducated and ignorent to say so and label many peace loving Somalis like that. As a Somali patriot, I would love to say " We will overcome and with the help of our EAC brothers (AMISOM), Somalia will rise again from the civil war ruins. Thanks to the International Community's commitment and support. This National Constitution Assembly (NCA) is the first baby step, most Somali intellectuals will agree that it is about a time for us (Somalis) to move forward with a federal constitution, which has its checks and balances of power for the sake of the common good pf the country. It is going to happen, and any current disagreements will be sorted out by the upcomming Members of the Parliment (MPs). Somalia will surely , but slowly get out of the woods.

by: Ahmed from: Norway
July 27, 2012 7:40 AM

A bad constitution is better then no constitution. This document will help the country achieve muchly needed milestone. People that critises the document are either, against universal rights of women or they want a greater influence for their clans and constituencies

by: James Deng Dimo from: Wau South Sudan
July 27, 2012 4:24 AM
James Deng Dimo from Wau South Sudan
It sound fantastic that Somalia is turning to a shadow point of federal government system that determine the opposition of other clans in Somalia but question is will they distinguished their country image from being a terrorist nation?
Introducing a new government system in Somalia will change Somalia from terrorism.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs